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Normality Viewed as a System

Roy R. Grinker Sr., MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(3):320-324. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730270064010.
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WHETHER we consider psychiatric disturbances as illness, defects in communication, or problems of living, their antitheses such as health, openness, and adaptation as well as the gradations between their polarities are important. These should have always been significant for the diagnostician, prognosticater, and therapist, but they have usually been ignored. Now that we are actively involved in prevention and facilitation of health or normality, clearer thinking and better research is necessary.

Previous studies on a group of apparently normal young men whom I called "homoclites" indicated that problems of health and illness were processes occurring within a large field.1 Offer and Sabshin,2 in their extensive review of the literature, subsequently abstracted four perspectives of normality: health, utopia, average, and process. It is to the process concept that General Systems Theory is applicable.

If we consider the ontogenesis of human


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